The Impact of Social Media on Society: Addiction and Self-Esteem

Social media has become an integral part of modern society, revolutionizing the way people interact and communicate. Any platform that facilitates social interaction is considered a social media site, and the prevalence of these platforms has skyrocketed with the advent of mobile applications. While social media has undoubtedly transformed the way we connect with one another, it has not been without its drawbacks. This essay explores the various negative effects of social media, with a particular focus on addiction and self-esteem issues.

The Rise of Social Media Addiction

Although social media addiction is not yet clinically diagnosed, the behaviors and language used by individuals suggest that society is inching closer to a point where dependence on mobile devices is a reality. With the proliferation of technology, easy access to social media platforms has made addiction a growing concern. Individuals who exhibit signs of social media addiction often spend a substantial portion of their waking hours checking for updates, engaging in instant messaging conversations, posting updates, and perusing their friends' latest posts.

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Psychology professor Larry Rosen notes that social media addicts constantly seek validation and connection through these platforms. Even when they delete their accounts, they frequently create new ones within twenty-four hours, highlighting the compulsive nature of their behavior.

In severe cases, social media addiction manifests with observable symptoms, including spending at least four hours daily on social media, canceling social activities with family, friends, or coworkers, bringing mobile devices into the bathroom, and experiencing anxiety when unable to access the internet.

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The constant influx of messages, photos, updates, and information from one's social network contributes to the addictive nature of these platforms. Individuals with extensive friend lists may find themselves spending hours each day attempting to keep up with the constant stream of updates, engaging in virtual conversations as if they were face-to-face.

Social networking sites, originally intended as casual and relaxed ways to connect with others, can quickly turn into addictive platforms. When individuals find themselves losing sleep or struggling to concentrate due to an overwhelming desire to check their friends' statuses, it is a clear sign of trouble. Social media addiction often serves as a means of escaping reality and creating a virtual world, as users get absorbed in their online personas.

Natasha Schull, an associate professor specializing in science, technology, and society, highlights that online games and social networking sites utilize psychological principles to keep users hooked. MRI scans have shown that the brain activity of social media addicts checking their feeds closely resembles that of individuals using cocaine. What starts as a harmless satisfaction of needs and desires can escalate into a full-blown addiction, with the brain's pleasure centers activated by checking social media platforms.

Another contributing factor to social media addiction is the emotional escape it offers. People tend to post more positive updates on social media, showcasing their achievements and happy moments while downplaying negative experiences. This disparity between the online persona and real-life struggles can lead to the development of depression through social media usage. Users may lose themselves in a manufactured world of perfection, distancing themselves from the challenges of everyday life.

Research has identified various types of social media addiction, including "The Alert-Lover," "The Social Guru," "The Verb Creator," "The Blog Referencer," "The Multi-Mayor," and "The Freak Out-er." These classifications underscore the multifaceted nature of this addiction and its diverse manifestations.

Self-Esteem and Social Media

Self-esteem plays a pivotal role in an individual's relationship with social media platforms. The pursuit of self-worth and validation often drives people to engage more actively on these platforms. For many, the number of "Likes" and positive comments they receive on their posts becomes a measure of their self-esteem and social standing.

Elliot Panek, a lead author on self-esteem and social media research, notes that the connection between self-worth and online activity varies between age groups. Young college students tend to post more on Twitter when their self-worth is at stake, using the platform to gain social status. In contrast, middle-aged adults from the general population use Facebook as a mirror to create and project their desired image, seeking validation from those already within their social circles.

Notably, social media platforms have the power to boost self-esteem through positive comments and interactions. "Likes" and favorable feedback contribute to feelings of self-worth, as individuals seek recognition and approval. The desire for love and belonging is deeply ingrained in human nature, and social media provides a virtual avenue for satisfying this need, albeit in a somewhat distorted manner.

However, this quest for validation through social media can have detrimental consequences. It can lead to the overemphasis on appearance and the posting of numerous self-photos to garner approval. Research conducted by the University of Buffalo suggests that individuals who base their self-worth on their appearance are more likely to post an abundance of pictures online for validation. This behavior is particularly prevalent among teenagers and young adults.

It is crucial to acknowledge that low self-esteem and self-doubt can drive some individuals to engage in cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a grave concern, as electronic devices with photo and video capabilities enable the bullying to continue relentlessly. Reports of teens recording fights, sexual assaults, and other disturbing incidents and sharing them on social media platforms have garnered attention. Some sites even promote and publish such content, perpetuating the cycle of harm.

The Perils of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying, facilitated by social media and electronic devices, poses a significant threat to individuals' well-being. The ability to capture and disseminate photos and videos within seconds means that the victimization can be unrelenting. Teens and young adults, already grappling with the pressures of fitting in, must now contend with the added fear of becoming targets for bullies who can tarnish their reputation with a few keystrokes.

Cyberbullying often takes the form of hurtful words and insults, but it can also involve impersonation. Impersonation allows individuals to attack victims without any personal connection, making it a common form of online harassment. The consequences of cyberbullying should not be underestimated, as it can lead to severe psychological distress, damaged relationships, and even tragic outcomes.

Research conducted by the National Crime Prevention Council reveals alarming statistics regarding cyberbullying. Approximately half of all teenagers in the United States have experienced some form of online bullying. Moreover, twenty percent of middle school students have admitted to seriously contemplating suicide due to online bullying, according to a survey by the Cyberbullying Research Center.

The detrimental effects of cyberbullying are not limited to victims alone; perpetrators also suffer from low self-esteem compared to their peers. Thus, bullying, whether online or offline, ultimately leaves everyone involved in a state of distress.

Treatment and Mitigation

Fortunately, there are various treatment options and strategies to combat social media addiction, low self-esteem, and cyberbullying. To address addiction, individuals must first acknowledge the problem and identify the specific social media or technology they are addicted to. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can provide guidance on overcoming compulsive internet behaviors and altering perceptions related to internet and mobile phone use. Therapy can also teach healthier coping mechanisms for managing stress, anxiety, and depression.

Support groups offer another valuable resource for those struggling with social media addiction. These groups create a sense of community, allowing individuals to realize they are not alone in their battle. While some support groups operate online, it is essential to monitor the extent of online interaction for those prone to addiction.

In the case of cyberbullying, it is crucial to raise awareness and educate individuals, particularly teenagers, about the severe consequences of online harassment. Schools, parents, and communities should work together to implement anti-cyberbullying programs and support systems to protect vulnerable individuals.

Conclusion

Social media has undeniably left an indelible mark on society, altering the way we connect, communicate, and perceive ourselves. While it offers many benefits, it also carries a host of negative effects, including addiction, self-esteem issues, and the perils of cyberbullying.

Social media addiction, though not yet officially recognized, is a growing concern, with individuals exhibiting compulsive behaviors related to checking for updates, instant messaging, and posting. The constant stream of messages and information from extensive social networks contributes to the addictive nature of these platforms.

Self-esteem plays a crucial role in an individual's relationship with social media, with some users seeking validation and self-worth through "Likes" and positive comments. However, this quest for approval can lead to a distorted sense of self and a focus on appearance-based validation.

Cyberbullying, facilitated by social media and electronic devices, poses significant risks, affecting both victims and perpetrators. It is essential to address this issue through awareness, education, and support systems.

In conclusion, social media's impact on society is multifaceted, encompassing both positive and negative aspects. It is imperative that individuals, communities, and society as a whole work together to mitigate the negative effects and harness the benefits of this powerful communication tool.

Updated: Nov 02, 2023
Cite this page

The Impact of Social Media on Society: Addiction and Self-Esteem. (2016, Feb 28). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/negative-effects-of-social-media-essay

The Impact of Social Media on Society: Addiction and Self-Esteem essay
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